Goodbye 2017

We've entered into 2018 with the customary celebrations for a new year. Before storming into a new year it's always good to look back a bit and to see what has been accomplished in the last year. In this post I'll look back at the year 2017 to see what happened around Kontena.

Kontena Cloud

During 2017, team Kontena focused on building the most easy to use, fully managed environment for running containers at scale, powered by Kontena’s open source technology. It brings together the latest innovations in developer productivity, cloud automation, and open source to accelerate your time to market.

Commercial offering

During 2017 we launched our commercial offering. As many startups do, we also iterated a bit on the pricing model and finally settled for a metered model where everything you use is metered and you pay for only what you actually use. Now our users can enjoy the hosted Kontena Platform deployments, built-in operations console, advanced user management, organization support and more. I'll open up a bit about the commercial features in next chapters.

Hosted Platforms

When using Kontena Hosted Platform, we automatically setup and manage the platform masters for you. When you select the standard version of the hosted platform, we make the setup in a highly available manner to make sure you can focus on what runs on top of the platform instead of the platform itself.

Kontena Compute

We also launched Kontena Cloud Compute in late 2017 to complement the hosted platform service. The Kontena Cloud Compute service is highly complementary to the existing “bring your own infrastructure” model. It is targeted towards users who value ease of use, zero maintenance, reliability, and support.

Hosted private image registry

The Kontena Cloud Image Registry is the most developer friendly solution for storing and distributing container images. It is secure and private by default; only the people in your organization or development team may access the images.

The Kontena Cloud Image Registry works with standard Docker CLI tools and may be used from any external CI/CD pipelines without hassle. It works with any system capable of processing and handling container images based on OCI image specification.

Kontena Platform updates

During 2017, we made 5 minor (SemVer minor version bumps) releases and numerous patch releases. Naturally, we've been constantly making the platform more and more robust, steadily upgrading all the components, and also shipping some new cool features. Here's some of the highlights of the new features that we've been shipping with the open source Kontena Platform.

During 2017, the open source project saw ~700 PR's being merged and ~550 issues being closed.

Service exec

With kontena service exec -t -i my-stack/some-service you can jump "into" the terminal of a running service. It's very handy when you need to execute some scripts or do some local debugging for a service. No need to figure out where the service is actually running, just take ssh connections and find out the correct containers names etc..

asciicast

Volumes

The Kontena 1.2 release introduced support for volume management. Stack services can use volumes created by kontena volume create, and the service and volume instances will be scheduled together.

Kontena volumes can use volume drivers provided by Docker plugins installed on the host nodes, such as rexray.

Native IPsec overlay network encryption

Host nodes have been upgraded to Weave 1.9.3, and switch using the new IPSec encrypted datapath for the overlay networking between host nodes.

The new encrypted datapath uses native Linux IPsec encryption, which provides improved performance when compared to the current userspace sleeve transport.
Host nodes will fall back to UDP-based sleeve transport if they are unable to send or receive IPsec ESP packets.

Kontena Shell

The Kontena Shell is available as an optional plugin for Kontena 1.2+, offering an improved interactive console interface: kontena plugin install shell.

asciicast

Fully automated Let's Encrypt certificates using tls-sni-01 challenges

The new Kontena Certificate support integrates with the Kontena Loadbalancer to provide fully automated Let's Encrypt tls-sni-01 domain authorizations.

The Kontena Certificate authorize command can be used to request a tls-sni-01 domain authorization challenge from Let's Encrypt, and also to deploy the challenge certificate to the linked Kontena loadbalancer. The new Kontena Certificate request command can then be immediately used to request a new certificate for the authorized domains. The new certificates will show up in Kontena Certificate list together with their validity period, and the Kontena Master will automatically renew the certificates 7 days before expiring.

Stack dependencies

Kontena Stacks can now embed other Kontena Stacks, and these child stacks will be automatically installed, upgraded and/or removed as part of the top-level stack. The child stack variables can either be set by the parent stack, or using the new kontena stack install -v child.variable=value CLI options.

stack: example/app  
depends:  
  db:
    stack: example/db
services:  
  app:
    image: example/app
    env:
      - DB=$db.$GRID.kontena.local

Rad more at the feature introduction post here: https://blog.kontena.io/stack-dependencies/

Service pre_start and pre_stop hooks

Kontena Services now also support type: pre_start|pre_stop hooks, in addition to the existing type: post_start hooks. The pre_start hooks are run in a temporary container before the service container is started and must execute successfully for the deployment to proceed.

Soft affinities

Services can now also be scheduled with soft ==~ affinities like service!=~other. Normal "hard" affinities will fail the service deploy if the scheduler cannot satisfy the condition. The scheduler will attempt to satisfy soft affinities, but will ignore them if unable to.

Node availability

Managing node availability state gives you the option to control whether a node should get a workload or not. By putting a node into the drain state, no new service instances will be scheduled onto the node, any stateless service instances will be re-scheduled onto other nodes, and stateful service instances will be stopped.

Support for Kontena Cloud metrics and real-time updates

The platform information and status shown in Kontena Cloud are now also updated in real time. When a new stack is installed or services are scaled up and down, the deployment progress is immediately visible in the Kontena Cloud Dashboard. If a node goes offline or returns online, you can also see it right away. Same goes for metrics, the connection between Kontena Cloud and the Kontena Platform is real-time so you see real-time updates also on the metrics and graphs on the dashboard.


Top blogs

During 2017 we've been busy also writing about different aspects of using containers and setting up different things on Kontena. Here's a list of few of the posts from 2017 that have seen the biggest number of readers.

Running Docker in Production: three use cases and the good, the bad and the ugly

This is a recap post from a Helsinki Docker Meet-up held on January 2017. During the meet-up, there were four different stories which told how different organizations utilize Docker in production and what needs to be taken into account when planning to go full-scale with Docker and containers.

.Net Core and SQL Server In Docker - Part 1 : Building the Service

In this post Dan introduced how to run .Net and SQLServer in Docker containers. Again, more proof that containers are truly good vessels to run and deploy any software.

Event Sourcing Microservices with Kafka

Dan produced another top-post where he takes the reader through the process of building up event sourcing microservices using Kafka as the "source of truth".

UpCloud+Kontena - all Suomi (Finnish) love <3

In this guest post Juhani Atula goes through the reasoning why he chose things made in Finland as a platform for running one of his projects. He also demonstrates how to easily run a Confluence wiki on top of Kontena.

Editors note: Juhani also presented at a Helsinki meet-up on how to run a cool 80's style arcade space shooter with Kontena and UpCloud. Check the video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3wsNU6lbMs


Top events in 2017

During 2017 Team Kontena attended several different events around the world. We have participated in more that 50 different events, usually either as exhibitors or speakers. Here's some of the highlights from the events.

AWS re:Invent

Team Kontena was present again at AWS re:invent in 2017. As always, it was a huge event, not only for AWS but also for Kontena. We met a lot of people during those few days, and everyone seemed to appreciate the completeness and the ease-of-use of the solution we have built. I also wrote some reflections on the event in a post here.

Meetups

During 2017 we ran almost 20 meet-ups, most of them in our own Meet-up groups. During December we also decided to shutdown some of the not-so-active Meet-up groups and directed people to join the Kontena Online meet-up group. We stream most of our own local Meet-ups online on our Youtube channel, so if you haven't yet joined the group, please do so and get notified about upcoming meet-ups.

Conferences

We've been also frequent speakers in different conferences around the world last year. Usually the topics have been around containers and microservices.

Just to name a few of the events we've been speaking at. :)

Expect to see us at various events during 2018, we'll constantly update the events page with upcoming events we're participating in.


What's in store for 2018

It's only the first days of 2018 as I write this, so no plans have yet been carved in stone. But one thing is sure, it's gonna be another awesome and busy year for team Kontena. We'll be ramping up new features in Kontena Cloud as well as nurturing the open source Kontena Platform. Together these are already offering one of the easiest ways to run and monitor containers on any scale; now with the features planned for 2018, it's going to get even easier.

In 2017 we saw wide-spread container adoption starting off. I think 2018 will be the year of containers. With that, I mean that containers will make their way into the mainstream toolset, even for the most rigid enterprises, and the adoption of container technologies will grow even more.


Want to try out?

Sign up to Kontena Cloud now to get $50 of free credits to run a fully hosted Kontena Platform to try it out. Kontena provides the most easy-to-use, fully integrated solution for DevOps and software development teams to deploy, run, monitor and operate containers on the cloud. It is used by hundreds of startups and software development teams working for some of the biggest enterprises in the world. https://www.kontena.io

Jussi Nummelin

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Tampere, Finland
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